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02 Does your “Why” matter?


What was your motivation for becoming a business owner?

Do you know how that motivation impacts your business today?

Business owners can be very practical, action-oriented people who would rather gloss over more nebulous items like motivation. But studies indicate that if we overlook understanding our motivation for beginning our business, there will be consequences.

Our motivation can be influenced by our situation and culture. Mark Henricks cited a global survey of 4000 owners indicating that 70% got into business to cover living expenses, indicating that business was primarily about quality of life.  In the US, prior to 2020, 67% desired to be their own boss. Another study indicated that only 8% of business owners got into business only to make money. After 2020, the rate of new business openings nearly doubled, likely to meet a need. The top motivations of Brazilian owners for starting a business were to provide employment (71%) and to contribute to society or their community (64%). 59% of Chinese owners stated that their reason for building a business was to pass it on to other family members.

There are two distinct types of entrepreneurs: circumstantial and intentional. Circumstantial entrepreneurs start a business for a variety of reasons, but their motivation is primarily based upon need, either a personal need or an opportunity to meet the needs of others.  These tend to require quick action. Intentional entrepreneurs have a specific motivation to build a business and are more likely to deliberately take the time to clearly define their reasons for building the business and to do the research and planning required to build a strong business.

The Business Journals reports a study of 800 small businesses with fewer than 25 employees discovered 4 major types of business owners.

      • Passionate Creators
      • Freedom Seekers,
      • Legacy Builders,
      • Struggling Survivors

The names of the first three types imply that the owners had a specific motivation, as do intentional entrepreneurs. The motivation which inspired the foundation of the company continues to influence the business’s growth, strengths, and weaknesses. Passionate Creators tend to be the most successful. The Freedom Seekers are less likely to have more than one employee, while the Legacy Builders tend to be in it for the long haul for their retirement, others, their families, and/or future generations. The type of business owners least likely to be successful were the Struggling Survivors, who do not seem to have a strong motivating force upon which they could build a solid company. Could it be that a majority of these business owners began as circumstantial entrepreneurs?

The motivation, the reason, the “Why” for starting a business is important, not only during the initial start-up but as the company matures and corporate culture becomes established. If we rush through defining “The Why” by settling for the first thing that comes to mind, we are likely to pay the consequences and fall into the 50% of new businesses which no longer exist 5 years after opening or the Struggling Survivors.

Your “Why” IS important.  We ask about your motivation for being in business because it is critical to your success.  We partner with you so you can reach your goals, accomplish your mission, and build a thriving business.

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